When your first name is Aloha, it should surprise no one that hula is a major part of your life. For kumu hula Aloha Dalire, the dance is more than just an art form, it’s a bond that joins cultures and generations.
“I enjoy working with the Japanese, I really do,” says Dalire, who runs halau in California and Tokyo. “I’ve worked with them since 1988. It’s amazing how they have embraced the hula and Hawaiian culture.”
Since April 2000 when Dalire appeared on MidWeek’s cover, she’s continued promoting the dance and culture that has defined her life. She moved her halau, Keolalaulani Halau Olapa O Laka, from its old location at Windward Mall to its new digs nearby on Kahuhipa Street, and she’s formed Waolani Entertainment with partners Willy Leong and Mario Martin. The company has recently produced “At Home In the Islands,” a Polynesian show that appeared at the Castaways Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, has performed concerts in Japan, and is currently in production of a new show that is coming to the Queen Kapiolani Hotel.
“I’m still doing what I always have. Things haven’t changed,” she says. “But most importantly I’m enjoying myself, and hopefully my mom (pictured above) looks back at me and she’ll be pleased with what I’m doing.”
No doubt her mother would be proud. Her hard-working daughter travels among her Hawaii, California and Japan halau on a monthly basis, and is busy trying to mold another Miss Aloha Hula — something she knows something about. Dalire and two of her daughters have won the coveted title at the Merry Monarch Festival in Hilo. Dalire’s entrant into this year’s Merry Monarch Festival is Pohai Nu‘uhiwa, whom she’s been teaching since Nu‘uhiwa she was 5.
“I knew there was gonna be a time that I would run her for Miss Aloha Hula,” she says. “I start looking at my girls when they first start with me. You can almost tell when they dance that they can grow up to be a solo dancer.”
Having that certain something that makes a winner is only half the battle. After that, it’s all about work. Practice occurs every day and lasts for hours. It can strain relationships and be downright tiring. But the competition is the reward, and Dalire is happy to be there every step of the way.
As it should be. It’s the family business. Eldest daughter, Kapua Dalire, has opened her own halau, Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea, in Kaneohe. Daughter Keola works with Mom while Kaui works for Alu Like, an agency that helps with social and economic development for native Hawaiians.
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